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Rainfall boosts flamingo births at Lake Tuz

ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency | 7/29/2009 12:00:00 AM |

This year, close to 10,000 flamingos were born at Lake Tuz, approximately 10 times the number as last year.

There’s a baby boom at Lake Tuz, where close to 10,000 flamingos were born this year, approximately 10 times the number born last year.

Nature Foundation science coordinator Özge Balkız said they have been observing Lake Tuz since 2003.

Balkız mentioned that the colony at Lake Tuz was among the largest in the Mediterranean basin. She added that they have known about the colony’s presence since the 1970s, and that large numbers of flamingos reproduced in the region until the 1990s.

Mentioning that the water level was an important factor for the flamingos to reproduce, Balkız added, “The incorrect irrigation policies at the Konya basin, the illegal wells and harmful practices, such as using the wrong crops, has affected the flamingos negatively, along with many other living species.” Balkız said that since the beginning of the 2000s, the flamingo population has dropped significantly.

“This year, due to rainfall, there is a distinct improvement. The heavy rainfall had an important effect on the flamingos’ reproduction success. Compared to last year there is a serious rise, but if damaging practices don’t stop, light rainfall next year might cause trouble. This year’s rainfall won’t help us in the long term. In 2007, 4,000 young were born. This is a really low number. Later during observations in the area we saw 500 of them dying because of drought. We might see drought-caused deaths again this year,” said Balkiz.

[HH] Until they fly

Balkiz said approximately 10,000 young flamingos came into the world this year and that this number was around 1,000 last year. The highest rate of reproduction was seen in 1994, when 12,000 were born.

Balkız, pointing out that the flamingos stay at Lake Tuz until they learn how to fly, implied that if 2007’s drought were repeated again, it would cause a disaster for the flamingo population. This is the reason, she said, behind the foundation’s constant vigilance. The science coordinator added they will be able to make any necessary intervention with the help of local authorities.

Lake Tuz has the capacity to sustain this year’s rate of growth, Balkız said. “Lake Tuz is a very important habitat for all the flamingos in the Mediterranean. To maintain the wellbeing of the area, the harmful irrigation and agricultural policies must be fixed. This is not impossible. There are positive ongoing projects and examples. These should increase,” she said.

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